“Shut your mouth and open your ears!”
Listening doesn’t happen by default; it happens by design. You have to ruthlessly eliminate distractions. I recently read those words in a book by Mark Batterson and it caught my attention for two reasons. One: Sometimes we think we’re listening but because our mouths are running we end up missing the main points. Two: Our ears are more important than our hearts. Let me explain. Most of the things that cause us anxiety and worry can be traced back to something we have heard. Am I correct? Our inner ear has heard more of what is in the heart even before your mouth speaks it.
You’re probably saying “you’ve lost me.” The Bible says “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh.” But you may be saying, “ my heart doesn’t speak“- yes it does. It speaks what your inner ear has received and downloaded to the heart, then we give it a voice. That’s why the Bible also says. “Guard your heart, because from it flows the issues of life.” Our eyes speak, our bodies speak, our organs speak, everything God created has a voice and language of its own. But the mouth and the heart speak the loudest. So we’re instructed to guard our hearts and place a watch over our mouths. Matthew 15:11
“A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.”
Luke 6:45 NLT
“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”
Proverbs 4:23 NLT
“Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; Keep the door of my lips.”
Psalm 141:3 KJV
What we hear and store in our hearts, and eventually speak determines the course of our life. That’s serious stuff. Listen to what the Bible also says about the heart.
“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?”
Jeremiah 17:9 NLT
God said He does. So who better to yield our hearts to?
“But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.”
This is also why Jesus challenged the people in His day to take heed how and what they hear. How the inner ear, which I will now liken to the heart, receives the Word of God, will determine the measure with which that individual is able to effectively use the information he or she has heard. This taking heed was taught in the parable of the sower sowing the seed (Word) and the different kinds of soils (hearts) in which it was sown.
It’s rather interesting that we can all hear the same Word, but walk away with four very different responses. Some to productivity and others to barrenness. Same Word, different reception. Why is that? The heart of the hearers. The problem is definitely not in the quality of the seed or the Word! It was not in the way that Jesus spoke it. It was in the way the Word was received, the way it was heard, and then, accordingly, how it was applied. That demands obedience! Obedience to what? The Word you have heard.
Obedience flows from the heart. As we learn to shut our mouths and open our inner ear, the Holy Spirit gets an opportunity to take what we have heard, and with the surrendered heart (the good soil) produce a harvest so that what we speak will flow from a good place. A place of productivity, a place of abandonment, where blessings flow from us to others. Not everything we hear should be allowed to get to the inner ear. Just as the natural ears have filters, so should our spiritual ears. We should, as Jesus warned, take heed or pay close attention to what and who we’re listening to. Not every preacher is called by God, and not every teacher is anointed. Our inner (spiritual ear) when activated, can discern the difference. But our hearts must be in total alignment with the Spirit of God.
“It’s not Bible knowledge that will impact and change the world, but the revelation of God’s Word heard, understood, and made alive in our hearts! – alive enough to command our obedience to it!”R.W. Francis
I agree wholeheartedly with that statement. Here’s why. Many years ago I attended a church where they were looking for a new pastor. I sat through the process as well as the sermon of a prospective candidate. At the end of his sermon, I knew by the Holy Spirit that the candidate had biblical knowledge learned in college, but no connection to the Author of the Bible. He was gifted for sure, but he wasn’t called or anointed. I gave my thoughts as well as a warning not to hire this man. I told them they’d lose the church if they did because he wasn’t even born again. They didn’t heed and the church dissolved. Jesus is the One who builds His Church, not man.
Jesus’ warning is still relevant today. How we hear what we hear of the gospel message, determines what flows from the heart. The proof that what we’ve heard is being cultivated in our hearts, will be seen in our ability to produce a harvest. It’s impossible to hide a tree laden with fruit. It’s also impossible to hide a life overflowing with the revelation of God’s Word. Out of the abundance or overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. The key to fruitfulness is understanding what is heard. You can’t live what you don’t understand, neither can you share it. But another key is learning to shut up and really tune in. We like to talk, we like to get the last word in. We have to train our outer ear to cooperate with the inner ear. If we’re planning our responses before the speaker is finished, we haven’t heard a thing. Go read the parable of the different soil (hearers), and this time get an understanding of what you’re reading.
Reference: Mark 4:1-25; Luke 8; Matthew 13:1-23
“To those who listen to My teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them.” Matthew 13:12 NLT
Shutting our mouths is a good place to start. This will allow our spiritual ears to be activated by the Holy Spirit. He is of course the Spirit of Truth. But He can’t give understanding to a chaotic heart. So empty out the clutter, by shutting out the noise of the voices clamoring to be heard. Tune in to the Word, with a heart ploughed and ready to receive the Seed with understanding. Only then, will you be able to produce thirty, sixty and a hundredfold.
“The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!” Matthew 13:23
Written by permission of the Holy Spirit